2023 Stanley Cup Final: Comparing Playoff Betting Data Between the Golden Knights and Panthers

2023 Stanley Cup Final: Comparing Playoff Betting Data Between the Golden Knights and Panthers article feature image

Vegas Golden Knights right wing Reilly Smith (19) and Florida Panthers center Carter Verhaeghe (23) battle for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, March 7, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

The 2023 Stanley Cup Finals are underway and we're back to unravel the Action Network app betting data between two unforeseen competitors.

The Vegas Golden Knights seized Game 1 with a presiding 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers. Our data reflects how bettors recorded their bets on the two teams through the first three rounds of playoff hockey.

Vegas secured the best regular season record in the Western Conference with 111 points — its best campaign yet. While Florida was the worst team in the playoffs statistically speaking, they proved legitimacy after eliminating three contenders — including the Boston Bruins, who were the winningest team in league history.

Both teams are making their second Cup Final appearances in franchise history.

Between a regular season ace and a postseason sleeping giant, let's see what our bettors have been making of the matchup.

Underdogs Slowly Gain Traction

The Panthers accrued their most picks of the playoffs in Game 7 against the Bruins on April 30. They had 4,719 to Boston's 9,572 tracked in Action's app. After they accomplished the unthinkable, we saw a progressive build in the action placed on Florida leading into the second round against Toronto.

The Panthers 2-1 loss in Game 4 against the Maple Leafs on May 10 accounted for 16.6% of all moneyline bets tracked.  Bets began tapering from Game 5 through the Eastern Conference Final against Carolina's aggressive forecheck and sound defensive structure.

Given their outlook in April, what the Florida Panthers have accomplished is not unlike the 2012 Los Angeles Kings, who entered the playoffs with a third-least 95 points. As an eighth seed, they defeated their first three opponents in no less than five games before winning the Cup in six against New Jersey. They entered the playoffs at +2000 odds and Jonathan Quick won the Conn Smythe with a 1.41 GAA and .946 save percentage.

Florida Has Slashed the Odds

The Panthers entered the playoffs at +2500 (they were +6600 at the start of April, which were their longest odds all season). Vegas began at +1200 and almost halved their odds after each series victory.

Despite going up 3-0 in both the Conference Semifinals and Finals, the Panthers have yet to see better odds than the Knights, who took six games to eliminate their last two opponents.

As of June 5, the Knights are -220 while the Panthers +180.

Of course with any successful Cup run — expected or not — almost always comes elite netminding. Sergei Bobrovsky has sewn together a Quick-like portfolio with a 2.32 GAA and .931 save percentage through 15 games. Bobrovsky was the leading Conn Smythe candidate entering the series at +200. Bobrovsky is now +320 after allowing four goals and a sub .900 save percentage in Game 1.

Jack Eichel is the leading candidate at +300. He notched two assists in Game 1 to net out 20 points in the playoffs, which leads Vegas.

Sin City Maintains the Edge

In the three days after the lines opened following Vegas' Western Conference Finals clincher against Dallas on May 27, the -125 Golden Knights have been favorited by a slim margin. Our NHL public betting page says that Vegas has 51% of bets, but our app data shows that the Knights jumped out to a hot start on May 28.

Vegas received 116 more tracked picks than Florida in the first day of Stanley Cup Final bets. The Golden Knights had just routed a feisty, deep Stars lineup 6-0 in Game 6 to advance; the Panthers hadn't played since their May 24 clinch against the Hurricanes in which all four games were one-score victories.

Picks began to plateau as the Knights held an 81-pick overall lead on the Panthers over course of the next two days that lines were available.

No Love for Cats in America

We followed how the country was tracking picks from 5/25 through 5/31 to discover that all 50 states entered the Cup Final leaning towards Vegas. Illinois, California, and Nevada checked in as the top three all with 900+ picks recorded.

Florida was No. 6 on the list with 752. The Panthers home state is one of three states (California and Texas) on the top 10 states of tracked picks where online sports betting is not legalized. Texas and Massachusetts — both states with teams that a finalist had eliminated — listed at No. 8 and 9 in Golden Knights betting, respectively.

How Metrics and Player Props Relate

Stats seem to have relatively lined up in relation to how player props have been bet with these two teams throughout the first three rounds. Jonathan Marchessault leads both clubs in Shots on Goal props recorded through 5/31 with 2,129. Marchessault is in the 3.6 shots per game range joining Sam Bennett and Brandon Mountour, but outranks those players with a 15.4% shooting percentage.

We pulled the over/under and lines that BetMGM set for Game 2. As top-three shot generators left in the playoffs, Bennett and Marchessault get the most value on the market with +110 at 3.5 and +120 at 3.5 shots, respectively. They're the only plus-money players who's total were set below their shot averages.

Montour gets one full shot less on his prop total, but is one of the most expensive players in the market.

Eichel is the only Knight in this territory with 3.39 shots as the Vegas favorite for the prop; he blows away the field with 18% of his shots beating the goaltender.

Adin Hill relieved Laurent Brossoit in Game 2 against the Oilers on May 6 and he's started every game since. Bobrovsky took the reins earlier in the postseason — replacing Alex Lyon in Game 3 against Boston and playing every minute since. So there is an inherent pull in Bobrovsky's favor in Save Over/Under props throughout the postseason due to three more games played. But is that three games worth the 135 pick difference between the two heading into Saturday's Game 1?

Bobrovsky averaged 46.5 picks to Hill's 46.9, so in essence, Hill has been the more popular goalie to bet. Both only had one 100-plus pick game in the first few rounds (Bobrovsky with 152 in Game 4 vs. Carolina, Hill with 134 in Game 5 vs. Dallas), but Hill's three biggest pick hauls came in his three starts to conclude the Western Conference Final. He stopped 92 of 99 shots and recorded a shutout in that span.

Hill's Conn Smythe odds improved to +600 after the Game 1 victory.

Anytime Goal props are the most popular to place in hockey betting and it's no surprise to see Matthew Tkachuk led all players with 560 picks. Tkachuk is one of three players scoring more than half a goal per game along with Marchessault and William Karlsson. Karlsson led the field with 10 goals to Tkachuk's nine, but Tkachuk leads the playoffs with four game-winning goals, which could relate to the 116-pick lead he had on the next-most in Eichel.

Tkachuk was responsible for almost 27% of the top 10 Anytime Goal prop players. Marchessault surpassed Tkachuk in goals after tallying one in Game 1. But Tkachuk and Marchessault are tied with +450 Conn Smythe odds.

Bet the Stanley Cup Final with Action

There's plenty more analytics to chew on with how the Panthers and Golden Knights match up on Action's NHL hub page. Follow our NHL futures page as the series progresses to keep tabs on how odds are fluctuating; our experts gave their thoughts on what their favorite Stanley Cup Final picks are. In terms of the where, our sportsbook reviews shed light on which books are optimal for betting hockey.

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